By Zulumathabo Zulu © 2017
I was interviewed by the great Journalist Tania Page of Aljazeera last year in the offices of Madisebo University College Press in Johannesburg, South Africa regarding my work on the African origin of knowledge and publishing.
Tania Page of Aljazeera TV News
This Aljazeera TV coverage was facilitated by the meticulous Producer Mukelwa Hlatshwayo who appears below. We need more of Mukelwa to broaden access to the platform for more coverage of African stories. Mhayise ka Langa! Ngwane! Thokoza Makhosi!
Aljazeera TV Producer Mukelwa Hlatshwayo
On November 17, 2016, I delivered a keynote address lecture at the University of South Africa at the gathering of the Institute of Dispute Resolution in Africa under the Faculty of Law in Pretoria. Dr. Andreas Velthuizen, who appears below, was a Program Director of this distinguished scholarly event.
Dr. Andreas Velthuizen of University of South Africa.
The gathering was packed to capacity. My presentation here was tittled Ithatike Ka Thaba : Africanisation, Indigenisation and Harmonisation. Aljazeera was also here to shoot the footage.
The premise of my scholarly paper argued that language was a keystone in the decolonisation of all forms of knowledge disciplines including the methodologies, ontologies and axiologies used in the formulation and production of those knowledge systems.
The idea of language, as a centerpiece of decolonisation, is attested for by other African philosophers and cultural theorists like Kwasi Wiredu of Ghana in his book of philosophical essays Conceptual Decolonisation and Ngugi wa Thiong’o of Kenya in his book Decolonizing The Mind. Frantz Fannon, in his book Black Skin White Masks, also makes the point that language is germane to the decolonisation of the mind.
An example of the power of language is the Basotho construct of Mothati which refers to a physical system, like a mountain or river, as a graphical system. The expression “Latela mothati wa thaba” says follow the graphical sequence of the mountain.
Instead of addressing the geological phenomenon of a mountain as a literal account, as would normally be the case in an English language, Basotho describe the material object as a mathematical artifact. While the English use the literal domain to describe a physical phenomenon, the Basotho use a symbolic domain to conceptualise about the phenomenon.
Moreover, using the conjugation rules of the language, which the English language does not have, the Basotho also interrogate the traversal of the graphical system when they say “E mothating ofeng?” meaning at what segment of the graphical system is the object? In this conjugated case, the Basotho are now referring to the graph as a sequencing system and the question seeks to analyse the specific segment of the sequencer.
The Basotho also have another numerical construct known as Sethato. Sethato refers to the juncture of the graphical sequence. When they say “Sethatong sa pele” they are describing the first instance of the juncture in the graphical sequence. This is important, because in the case of many sequences, you need an objective way of marking a particular sequence and the construct of Sethato facilitates that. In other words, Sethato disambiguates the reference to the cluster of sequences.
What is interesting about the Sesotho language is that the numerical logic, as described in my other article Numerical Logic of the Basotho – Part I, is built into the language unlike the English language that lacks this feature because it was never part of the design of the language.
In this way, the erudite ancestors of the Basotho who have gone before us conceptualised about a physical phenomenon as a mathematical model. This effectively shows that the Sesotho language, like other African indigenous languages, boasts an intricate system of mathematical linguistics.
It is this power of the language that holds a key to a radical transformation of the curriculum and the knowledge disciplines so that the mind of the African child is no longer inhibited and muted by the epistemic colonialism that is embedded in the Eurocentric curriculum and foreign forms of conceptualisation.
Unfortunately, this video is an abridged version but without further ado, here is the Aljazeera clip.